Republican nominee hopeful for 2022 governor race visits Williamsport
Jason Richey, a self-described blue-collar resident of Allegheny County and a Pittsburgh law firm partner, sought to knock it out of the park Thursday as he runs for the Republican nomination for governor.
On a day when the Little League World Series started in South Williamsport, Richey, 50, took a hammering swing at Gov. Tom Wolf’s policies, as he dined at the Mulberry Street Cafe on Market Street with Lycoming County Commissioner Scott Metzger among others.
“I’m a working-class guy who admires that in people,” said Richey, adding that the city and county were ripe for a rebirth.
He then dove into his 12-part plan that was slugged — “It’s Time for Pennsylvania’s Comeback,” a slogan he is using as he campaigns.
Asked what he would do for Greater Williamsport as governor, Richey started out touting one of his priority economic drivers – a proposed zero-percent income tax, an economic incentive, he said, has worked in cities in Tennessee and Florida, which are experiencing financial comebacks and windfalls.
“You do not want to penalize someone for working,” he said. “We want to reward people that get off their butts and go out there an earn a living,” he said.
Asked how that would help this city and region, Richey noted how Lycoming County has lost 5 percent of its population, based on the latest Census.
“That’s not good,” he said, adding “this is a beautiful area that should be a thriving place and thriving town. The zero-percent tax formula is proven to help businesses and help communities to grow economically,” he said.
To implement it, as governor, he said, he will eliminate both the state business and personal income taxes, establishing, instead, the zero-percent tax rate to incentivize, not penalize, participation in the workforce and encourage new residents and businesses to come here.
Secondly, to counter the losses from the tax rate change, Richey said more emphasis must be placed on taking full advantage of the overabundance of natural resources, including natural gas, especially that derived in the Marcellus Shale play.
“I’m for an ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy of an energy policy promoting growth in development of natural gas, oil, clean coal, wind, solar, nuclear, and geothermal forms. That would produce lower energy costs and prioritize environmental compliance,” he said.
In terms of improving public safety, Richey, minutes before the interview, met with District Attorney Ryan Gardner and they went over ways to keep the county and city safe.
“We talked about utilizing the sheriff’s department, which, unfortunately, under the current law, does not have the ability to arrest,” Richey said. “We could give them such power and, suddenly, have more trained people out on the streets.”
Richey said public safety also can be improved with educational incentives.
When 18-year-olds are trained or go to a college or trade school, they get jobs and become productive taxpayers and, for the most part, contribute positively to society and the economy, he noted. As such, Richey said he would advocate to expand school choice, college preparatory and vocational education.
His educational platform includes improving compensation for the state’s teachers, and encouraging better school administration through voluntary district consolidations when appropriate.
A fiscal conservative, Richey said the state can no longer have the second highest gasoline and business income taxes in the nation.
He said these impediments are “stifling” opportunities for new business investment and costing residents much-needed job opportunties.
Once in office, Richey said he would seek to eliminate unnecessary regulations, be proactive with business leaders and advocate for and encourage investment to regain the state’s once-heralded legacy as a leader in manufacturing.
Richey said that he wants to reduce the size of state government and the Legislature.
“Our government puts a huge burden on its constituents with the largest and most expensive state legislature in the country,” he said.
Moreover, he said, he wants to rebuilding state residents’ trust in their state government.
One of Richey’s immediate actions will be to repeal what’s known as Act 77, to acquire modern voting machines with paper ballot backup, and mandate Voter ID to ensure election integrity.
Richey said he would prioritize transparency in hiring and spending at all levels of government, advocate for merit-based selection of judges and be a governor who delivers.
“We have to bring back manufacturing and reduce our energy dependence,” he said summing up his ideas. “We need to shrink the size of state government and we also want to make local government more efficient,” he said.
To do that, Richey said he would have a representative for rural counties, many of which are left out of the conversation when Philadelphia, Pittsburgh are in the room.
“We have to have expand broadband internet,” he said. “Everyone must have access to it.”
“We haven’t had a governor who delivers,” he said. “I want to provide all Pennsylvanians with a governor who delivers.”